The NBA is a league that allows a lot of player mobility. Players switch between teams all the time, whether through a free agency or a trade. Sometimes a player is traded because a team wants to move them from the roster. But other times, players get traded because they request the trade themselves, a lot of times ending up at a destination that they wanted.
NBA superstars are the sort of players whose trade requests carry a lot of weight. They carry the most value on a roster. If they request a trade, then their franchise usually trades them to avoid dealing with a disgruntled superstar and to gain maximum value for the future. If the franchise holds out, then sometimes the player could force a trade using the leverage that they have. Here are 10 superstars throughout NBA history that have forced trades to other franchises.
10. Paul George
Paul George was once a superstar on the Indiana Pacers, competing against the likes of LeBron James in the playoffs, and being the main star on a playoffs team. He looked like a huge building block moving forward. Paul George had a huge injury earlier in his career, but eventually became fully healthy and came back into All-Star form. Paul George had a solid few playoff seasons with Indiana Pacers, but never truly competed for a championship despite making the conference Finals multiple times. Paul George himself explained why he left Indiana:
It’s an organization that just cares to be competitive, they don’t care to win. They got pressure from the city of Indiana to be competitive. That’s where they hang their hat on.
Paul George left because in his view, they were a small market that didn’t want to pair him with another superstar. Paul George asked for a trade, and eventually got traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a trade that would end up pairing him with Russell Westbrook, who was just coming off his MVP season.
9. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony was drafted by the Denver Nuggets, where he spent a lot of his career. He had a lot of competitive years in Denver, notably playing with stars like Chauncey Billups and Allen Iverson. However eventually, Carmelo Anthony requested a trade, as the team simply couldn’t get over the hump. The city of New York appealed to him due to the large market there, and the prospect of playing for the city of his birth definitely played a factor in him forcing a trade. Contract talks had already broken down between him and the team earlier, so it was a matter of time before Anthony got his way
Some time into the 2010-11 season, Carmelo Anthony was dealt to the New York Knicks for a huge trade package, despite the fact that he could have joined them in free agency after that season. Carmelo Anthony remaining in Denver remains one of the big what-ifs for the Denver Nuggets, although they’ve been really competitive in recent memory with young stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
8. Vince Carter
Vince Carter was the superstar that put Toronto on the map for the rest of the NBA. His high-flying dunks and natural athleticism made him a favorite of the crowd. In Toronto, he blossomed into an All-Star, but everything good also comes to an end. Carter eventually grew tired of Toronto, and actively tried to get himself traded. The Raptors themselves grew tired of Carter’s injury issues and disdain towards the franchise eventually led the Raptors to agree to a trade with the New Jersey Nets.
The Vince Carter trade to the Brooklyn Nets is one of the worst in Raptors’ franchise history: Alonzo Mourning didn’t play for them. They didn’t pick anyone notable with the picks, while the other players in the trade didn’t make much of an impact on their roster. Needless to say, there is no love lost between Carter and the franchise’s older fans.
7. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving was actually in a good spot with the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving got the opportunity to win a championship with LeBron James and became part of the greatest comeback in the NBA Finals. However, eventually, Kyrie Irving grew tired of playing second fiddle on the Cavaliers and demanded a trade to a spot where he could be more of a centerpiece in the offense. Here are a few snippets from a Bleacher Report article:
On Wednesday, Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.com passed along comments from Irving about the end of his time with the Cavs, who selected him with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
“[Leaving] was inevitable,” he said. “I could feel it.”
In July, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported Irving requested a trade because he wanted to “play in a situation where he can be more of a focal point and that he no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James.”
While Kyrie Irving didn’t achieve much in the postseason with the Boston Celtics, it is admirable that he was willing to leave the best player in the world, to maximize his own development and the player that he could be. He could have been guaranteed playoff success, but he chose his own way.